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California Law Provides Possibility of Early Parole for 18 to 23-Year-Olds

In 2016, former Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that extended the possibility of early parole to individuals who were under 23 years of age at the time of their offense and sentenced to life in prison or received a lengthy incarceration sentence. The law, called Youth Offender Parole, was developed from the efforts of Human Rights Watch, the Fair Sentencing for Youth Coalition, and others that work to ensure people are treated fairly in the criminal justice system.

A similar law was passed in 2014, which allowed individuals who were 18 years of age when an offense was committed to be considered for early parole. Youth Offender Parole extends that to 22 years of age, as it takes into account research in neuroscience that suggests youths’ brains are still developing. Because of this, it’s possible for those individuals to make a significant change in their lives. The new law offers a higher number of imprisoned youths second chances to succeed.

Who Is Eligible for Youth Offender Parole?

An imprisoned individual may be eligible for Youth Offender Parole if they:

  • Were under 23 years of age at the time of the offense
  • Did not receive a life without parole sentence
  • Did not receive a life sentence for certain sex offenses
  • Do not have more than 1 strike for serious or violent felonies
  • Were not convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a separate crime after they turned 23
  • Were not convicted of an offense that includes “malice aforethought” after they turned 23

How Does an Individual Petition for a Youth Offender Parole Hearing?

The individual does not have to petition for a hearing; it will be scheduled as others are.

The proceedings will happen as regular; however, the Commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings will take into consideration the age of the individual at the time the offense was committed and that younger people do not have the same decision-making capacity as adults. During the hearing, the individual must demonstrate that they are significantly rehabilitated.

When Can an Individual Be Released on Parole?

Depending on the offense the individual was convicted for, they could be eligible for release by their 15th, 20th, or 25th year of imprisonment. If the individual was not sentenced to life in prison, they would have their first parole hearing by their 15th year of incarceration. However, if the individual has a life sentence, their first hearing would be no later than their 20th or 25th year of imprisonment.

Schedule an Initial Consultation with John Pozza Attorney at Law, PLC

John Pozza is committed to delivering effective criminal defense to his clients. If you or your family member need a vigorous defense and representation, contact us today.

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